It’s a sad day when backed into a corner, formerly credible journalists resort to shamelessly defending issues, causes, and people known to be destructive to humanity, especially when they have helped them get there. This is Stephen Kinzer’s job today when it comes to Rwanda. He helped construct the myth of a seraphic Kagame. But with mounting evidence against Kagame’s human rights violations record, Kinzer is scrambling to maintain the fallacy by any means necessary, even by going so far as to undermine human rights organizations. Kinzer knows he is defending a criminal. And as the criminal becomes more and more exposed and ostracized, Kinzer’s credibility as well as his pocket change are likely to take a hit. What happens when a journalist finds himself in such a difficult situation? Does he do the morally sound thing and speak in unisom with the world’s most vulnerable population? Or does he continue to defend his criminal friend despite how irrational and blatantly imperialistic his defense may be?
In a recent article, Stephen Kinzer chose the latter. He informs us that he finally broke with the human rights community once they published and publicized Kagame’s crimes. Kinzer says:
The place where I finally broke with my former human-rights comrades was Rwanda.
Kinzer says that admiration from other dictators (referred to in the article as ‘other heads of states in africa’ ) and their attendance of Kagame’s inauguration are proof that Kagame is not a brutal repressive dictator. Either Kinzer forgot that Kagame was the biggest threat to democracy in his country at the run-up of the elections, or he supports the kind of sham election that excludes all viable opposition parties, imprisons opposition leaders, and exiles and murders independent journalists. Kinzer clarifies his position by informing readers of his support for this kind of repression from an African leader. Kinzer continues,
By my standards, this authoritarian regime is the best thing that has happened to Rwanda since colonialists arrived a century ago. My own experience tells me that people in Rwanda are happy with it, thrilled at their future prospects, and not angry that there is not a wide enough range of newspapers or political parties.
With a straight face he says that. He mis-characterizes what rights Rwanda’s been violating as justified since they were demanded in the context of “ethnicity,” disregarding the fact that any time Kagame and company are faced with any threat for democracy they reduce everything down to “ethnic” divisionism and imprison those who threaten them with democratic ideals. Kinzer is okay with that. He also believes that instead of documenting human rights violations, Human Rights Watch should instead sycophantically praise Rwanda. It would be funny, if it weren’t so serious. Just ask this guy. Kinzer doesn’t believe the guy deserves his right to life as an opposition figure to Kagame.
Human Rights Watch wants Rwandans to be able to speak freely about their ethnic hatreds, and to allow political parties connected with the defeated genocide army to campaign freely for power. (emphasis mine)
Kinzer is afraid of democracy in Rwanda. Democracy in Rwanda is a threat to Kagame, and a threat to Kagame is not only a threat to Kinzer’s credibility and pay check. Kinzer, so shamelessly imperialistic has the gall to say that by calling out human rights violations in Rwanda, Human Rights Watch is leading Rwanda on the path to another genocide instead. He forgets that Kagame is the one continuing his genocidal plan which he started 20 years ago.
It has come to this: all that is necessary for another genocide to happen in Rwanda is for the Rwandan government to follow the path recommended by Human Rights Watch.
But where was Stephen Kinzer in 1990 when Kagame attacked a peaceful nation and started a four year war that culminated in the genocide of 1994, and out for more blood, continued and committed genocide in the Congo? Where was Stephen Kinzer when the RPF violated the Arusha peace accords which would allow them to return to Rwanda peacefully, and campaign freely within the country as another political opposition party? This is the same right Kagame and Kinzer are denying other Rwandans who are doing it peacefully and not forcing a peace agreement by the gun unlike Kagame and the RPF. Where was Kinzer when the RPF assassinated two heads of states? Where was Kinzer when the RPF refused international intervention to stop the genocide and the war violence, but instead prolonged the conflict until they had secured the whole country? Where was Kinzer when the RPF and Kagame went into the Congo and committed genocide there? Where was Kinzer in 1996? 1998? 2000? And subsequent years when Kagame’s army ravished the Congo, with only the Congolese people as the real loser of each one of their incursions? Where was Kinzer when the UN released a mapping report documenting the most serious human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo between 1993 and 2003, where an alleged possible genocide was committed by Rwandan troops?
And most importantly, where is Kinzer today? Where is his altruistic non colonial and non imperialistic proclivities for defending human rights instead of businesses? I have not seen Kinzer speak out on behalf of Congolese. Instead he defends Kagame’s right to deny others rights, and to violate their human rights, and commit crimes against humanity against them.
Is Kinzer really interested in human rights? Or is he interested in human rights violations profit? He praises the most recent Human Rights Watch appointment because it’s “potentially” one that will remain silent on Kagame’s crimes. Kinzer is happy with Rwandans living under a dictatorship, without any ability to express their free political will, nor their right to oppose the opposition, or the right to express their thoughts and ideas on political repression. According to Kinzer and his western prescriptions, lowering their standards, demanding less from an oppressor is not only good for Rwandans, it is RIGHT.
And somehow, in this twisted world we live in, Human Rights Watch is the imperialist, according to altruistic and benevolent human rights defenders like Kinzer.
Filed under: Africa, genocide, rwanda | Tagged: a thousand hills, Democratic Republic of Congo, drc, human rights violations, human rights watch, Kagame, kinzer, Paul Kagame, rwanda, rwandan genocide, stephen kinzer |